At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding(9)

By: Cathy Williams

‘That’s all right for you to say,’ she informed him. ‘You happen to be blessed with amazing good looks.’

‘Do you always say what’s on your mind?’ Theo asked, a little taken aback by her blunt statement.

Heather ignored that. She was too busy hovering. He had to propel her through the door, and he might not notice a thing, but she certainly did. All those faces turned in their direction. The women sniggered, she was certain of it, before feasting their eyes on the man by her side.

The men shot her quick disparaging looks, and then they, too, looked at Theo, wondering whether they should recognise him. Heather felt worse than invisible. Indeed, invisible would have been a much more acceptable option. As it was, she stared down at the shiny wooden floor which made the most of highlighting her practical line in footwear.

‘We’re over there,’ Theo murmured, bending down. ‘Would you like me to lead you or are you prepared to look up and make your way to the table unaided?’

‘Very funny,’ Heather whispered back at him. ‘Do you notice how everyone’s staring at me, wondering what on earth I’m doing here?’

‘No one’s staring at you.’

‘Well, they were,’ Heather informed him, reaching her chair with deep relief and sinking into it.

‘Your mother has a lot to blame herself for in letting whatever complexes you have about your sister get out of hand.’ He picked up the menu on the table but gave it only a scant perusal, obviously knowing in advance what he intended to order.

Heather leaned forward and looked at him earnestly. ‘It wasn’t Mum’s fault that she happened to give birth to a swan and an ugly duckling.’

‘Point proved. Is she aware that you constantly make comparisons between yourself and your sister?’

‘Mum died seven years ago.’ She waited for the meaningless expressions of regret but none were forthcoming. Instead, Theo held her gaze thoughtfully before giving her a quick nod. ‘She was ill for about two years before she finally passed away. That’s why I never finished my education. I needed to get working.’

‘And what was your sister doing at the time?’

‘Claire was in London, doing an acting course and some waitressing.’

‘And you were left no assets that would have helped you with your own ambitions?’ Against his will, he was curious about the dynamics of her family. Without looking away from her, he ordered a bottle of wine and the fish of the day, which she ordered as well.

Heather flushed. ‘Claire needed what little there was far more than I did at the time. She promised that when she made it big she would pay me back—not that the money ever mattered. Mum was gone and I didn’t really care about dividing what she’d left us, which wasn’t very much anyway.’

‘And has she made it big?’ Theo asked casually, knowing what answer he would receive. Sure enough, it was no surprise to discover that dreams of stardom were languishing across the Atlantic. No surprise either to discover that the money had never managed to wing its way back to its original owner, who seemed stunningly content with the situation.

‘So you are happy to compare yourself unfavourably to someone whose only claim to fame apparently lies in her looks?’ Theo mused over a glass of wine.

‘She also happens to be a very warm person,’ Heather defended hotly. Mostly, she conceded to herself, when she was getting her own way. Her selfishness had always been a combination of infuriating and endearing. It had been hard to lose her temper with Claire, and the few times that she had she had met with a brick wall of plaintive incomprehension. ‘Anyway, I don’t compare myself to Claire. I just admire her looks. Don’t you have brothers you sometimes compare yourself to?’ It was such a ridiculous notion that she couldn’t help but grin. ‘No. I can’t picture you comparing yourself unfavourably to anybody. You’re way too self-confident for that. I guess you’d expect people to compare themselves to you.’

‘No siblings,’ Theo informed her flatly, his tone of voice warning her away from any further probing into his personal life, but Heather was gazing at him thoughtfully.

‘That’s very sad for you. I know that Claire doesn’t live here, but it’s just good knowing that she’s with me in spirit, so to speak. What about your parents? Where do they live? Over here? They must be very proud of you, what with you being so successful in your job…’

Women didn’t make a habit of probing into Theo’s personal life. In fact, women knew when to back off without having to be told. Something in his expression had always been very good at warning them about the boundaries he laid down. He wined them and dined them and treated them with extravagant gestures that were wildly out of most people’s orbit. In return he asked only for relationships without complications. His life was hectic enough without having to deal with demands from the opposite sex.